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Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Glorious Body of Christ


Is Glory Relative?

In relation to humanity, what is glorious to one may may not be glorious to the other. In biblical usage, the Greek doxaz┼Ź almost sounds relativistic. We must remember though, that we are dealing with Absolute Truth here, with an Immutable God! Though we as humans may ( and do ) have our differing opinions about whether a thing ( or Person ) is glorious or not, our opinion, and theirs is just that, merely an opinion, nothing more, nothing less. As the saying goes, 'it is what it is'; The Body of Christ, no matter how we see it, is glorious, and nothing that we can do or think will make it otherwise!

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, 
“Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 
And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  
Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. 
Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
 Luke 24:36-39

This passage, and the parallel one in John 20, is traditionally used to prove the nature of Jesus' Glorified Body, but I believe that when we use such speculation as to say that our glorified bodies will be physical, yet not ( being able to walk through walls and such ) is to miss the whole point of Luke's relation here! The point is not that He was able to appear in their midst even though the door was locked ( significant of their stubborn hearts of unbelief? ), but that He appeared in their midst. The point was not that He had the self-same Body or not ( 'Behold My hands and My feet' ), but that by doing all these things, He had unequivocally defeated Death!

We, as human beings, have a natural tendency toward individualism! Because Scripture says that 'we will be like Him' ( I John 3:2. Philippians 3:21 ), we think that our ( individual ) body will become somewhere in between, physical but yet not. We will be able to walk through walls ( like Jesus? ) yet we will also be able to eat and drink, marry and be given in marriage. We will be free from any kind of pain for old things will have passed away, and all things will have become new!

Is this what Scripture truly teaches, though? The writers of Holy Writ, we can see from searching both the original text ( Greek & Hebrew ) and the covenant context, were not concerned with individual bodies being raised from the grave, but of the corporate Body of Israel being resurrected from the dead, and made to stand again, as pictured in Ezekiel 37, most succinctly. Much of the traditional doctrines ( of men ) that we read into Scripture, especially of individual bodies being raised ( although there is no doubt that this did happen ) come from a faulty translation, and ultimately, a rebellious spirit! Because we are not satisfied with the good creation that God has made us, we strive to speculate that one day, the Creation that man has ruined will be renewed, and made like Adam was in the beginning, physically perfect, without blemish!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
 ( Ephesians 5:25-27 )

The Gospel writers wrote individualistically, in many cases, it may seem, but these individuals, for the most part, as we see above, were and are simply pictures of the Greater Reality! The author of Hebrews, for instance, writes of this corporate reality, the Body of Christ Himself, in Hebrews 12:18-24. 

The biological body with which Jesus appeared to His disciples in that famous upper room was obviously the self-same body in which He was buried, or which had been place in the rich man's grave. His glorious physical body, though, was in effect, no different then His body before He ascended to His Father, as Daniel foresees in his prophecy ( Daniel 7:13 ), for His physical resurrection was simply a picture, an indication, of our resurrection, the standing ( upright ) again, of the corporate Body of Israel, the Body that had fallen through the Death of Adam!

In previous studies, we have explored the notion, the fact, as I believe it to be, that Jesus' biological Body was raised simply to prove to His generation, who were 'slow of heart' ( Luke 24:25 ) that He had indeed defeated Death! He appeared to them, first, as the symbolically risen Christ, then as the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to comfort and strengthen them in their tribulation! As the Risen Christ, he comforted His disciples with the fact that Death no longer had any power over them, and He prepared them ( John 8, etc. ) for the coming ( back ) of His Holy Spirit, who would strengthen them for the great trial and tribulation that they would soon face!

The biological body of Christ was glorified, made glorious, no doubt ( 'Do not cling to Me'-John 20:17 ), but His glorification was simply a picture of the final glorification of the People of God  ( Romans 8:29 ), His Church, the Glorious Body of Christ!

May we realize this simple and absolute Truth, and act accordingly,
Charles Haddon Shank

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